Lindsey’s future literally up in the air

DEFYING GRAVITY — Blue Earth Area High School senior Thomas Lindsey feels the effects of flying upside-down in a glider during a session in Faribault. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Lindsey).

BLUE EARTH — Thomas Lindsey has developed a penchant for defying gravity.

The Blue Earth Area High School senior literally elevated his pole-vaulting skills to new heights during the 2019 track & field campaign.

After reaching a season’s-best 10 feet, 6 inches as a sophomore in 2018, Lindsey implemented a workout program during the offseason and coincidentally received an extra biological boost when he hit a growth spurt.

“The combination of working out and growing 4 to 5 inches helped me put on muscle and I noticed I got faster on the runway, too,” said Lindsey.

Lindsey’s statistical numbers in his field specialty soared skyward as he captured the gold medal during the Sentinel Relays’ Class AA competition last May 3 in Fairmont by clearing 13 feet even, but the Bucs’ then-junior was only warming up.

Lindsey recorded a first-place height of 13-6 at the Big South Conference’s small-schools meet, sailed over the pole vault bar at 13-9 to claim top honors at the Sub-Section 5 Meet and matched that height to strike gold at the Section 2 Meet to qualify for the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A state meet.

“Typically, I like things that are challenging,” said Lindsey. “I think I was drawn toward the pole vault because there is so much technique required to compete in it.”

“Every aspect of it (pole vault) has to be synchronized in order for it to work,” said Bucs’ assistant coach Donna Nawrocki.

“Thomas’ footwork on his approach was good at state at Hamline (University), his hands were perfect, he stayed balanced on the runway, his plant was solid, his leg-swing was good and his follow-through with his feet was on the money,” Nawrocki said in reference to Lindsey’s best vault during last spring’s Class A state competition in St. Paul.

Lindsey cleared a career-best height of 14-3 to earn third place overall, edging out Stewartville’s Trevon Schaefer for the bronze medal in reaching his mark in less attempts.

“Now that this (track & field) season is officially over, it’s difficult to think back and realize that was the last meet of his high school career,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Tom Plocker. “It was a good way to go out as a junior, but it’s sad that we’ll never know what he could have accomplished this year.”

“Unfortunately, Thomas can’t see the fruition of his labor this spring,” said Nawrocki. “He was looking forward to attempting to break the school record and having a legitimate chance to win a state (individual) championship.”

In order to achieve his lofty goals, Lindsey diligently went back to work during the winter months by attending track & field training camps at Gustavus Adolphus College and St. John’s University.

“Between Gustavus and St. John’s programs, I improved my (pole vault) technique, and I would have been comfortable clearing 15 feet, especially since I was clearing 16 feet when I was using the bungee (training method),” said Lindsey.

If Lindsey had attained those altitude levels this spring, he would have etched his name into the record books at the Sentinel Relays and at Blue Earth Area High School — both established at 14-6. Former standout Jake Zebedee holds the Bucs’ mark, while former Madelia/Truman extraordinaire Josh Sorenson established the Sentinel Relays’ Class AA boys’ record in 2002.

Lindsey also would have likely exited Hamline University with a Class A state gold medal around his neck considering that Plainview-Elgin-Millville’s Jacob Munsch won the 2019 state pole vault crown with a height of 15 feet even.

While Lindsey’s final prep pole vault season has literally been grounded, the sky is the limit for his future in college and in the proverbial real world.

“When we were in school earlier this semester, I really didn’t see too much of him around school since he’s usually getting in his hours flying in the morning and he’s taking nearly a full load of PSEO (postsecondary enrollment options) classes again,” said Plocker.

While most high school student-athletes’ lives have been dramatically altered, Lindsey’s daily routine has maintained a somewhat smooth and steady course.

The Blue Earth Area senior typically spends his mornings logging hours flying an airplane en route to earning his commercial pilot’s license before logging online to complete his postsecondary courses that will allow him to achieve an incredible academic double-double.

“I’ve been taking PSEO classes full-time since 10th grade, so I should graduate with an associate degree from Iowa Lakes (Community College) at the same time as I receive my high school diploma from Blue Earth Area (High School) some time in May,” said Lindsey.

In fact, Lindsey will transfer 90 credit hours to Minnesota State University in Mankato in the fall, leaving him only a year or three semesters away from completing his bachelor’s degree in aviation.

“I’d like to do what my dad does and fly commercially for an airline,” Thomas Lindsey said in reference to his father John Lindsey’s job as a pilot for Sun Country Airlines.

But the need to go airborne does not stop with Thomas’ dad as the entire Lindsey family has a connection to flying.

Thomas’ paternal grandfather was a pilot for Northwest Airlines, his brother John does likewise for PSA Airlines, his brother Bobby is a flight instructor, while his mother Patti is currently working on her private pilot’s license.

Thomas Lindsey, however, can claim bragging rights over his entire family of fliers after earning his glider rating — flying engine-less airplanes — and his seaplane rating — flying floats or hulls.

Now, the only question for Thomas Lindsey is, “Will he compete in the pole vault at MSU in Mankato?”

“With all the confusion created by the coronavirus, and high schools and colleges shutting down, I don’t know whether I’m going to be on the MSU track team or not,” said Thomas Lindsey. “I guess you could say it’s ‘up in the air’ right now.”


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